Rally Round McCain!

Few proverbs better elucidate the nature of an endeavor than “politics is the art of the possible.” Obviously these words are not appreciated by utopians, as theirs is the art of the impossible. Their elevated, and largely fictional, standards of purity mandate that their associates — both on the philosophical and personal level — possess precisely the same beliefs and values that they do.

Yet utopianism should hold no dominion within the American political system and the upcoming presidential election is a timely illustration of this eventuality. Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, embodies the possible. Polls suggest that even in a year in which the Democratic candidates are the presumptive favorites, McCain’s chances of success against either frontrunner are quite good.

Indeed, in the opinion of this commentator, the likelihood of a leftist landslide in the fall is what made the Republican rank-and-file embrace McCain even after the smart money wrote him off at the start of the primaries. In 2008, more than ever, a need exists for the Grand Old Party to attract independents and moderates. Without them, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will squash the right as if they were cicadas milling about upon summer asphalt.

McCain’s comeback has rightly made him “the Phoenix from Phoenix,” but most conservatives were less than titillated by the prospects of his occupying the White House. His habit for “crossing the aisle” and being a maverick did not endear him to those who are passionate about free markets, freedom of speech, and Second Amendment rights.

Yes, there’s no denying that the phrase “compassionate conservative” is about as appealing as receiving an undercover assignment to infiltrate the Taliban, but there is no denying that Senator McCain — whose military service record renders him close to being a walking, talking synonym for Old Glory — will take the security of our nation seriously.

While McCain is the only option, he is also mightier than the sum of his parts. His lifetime American Conservative Union ranking of 83 should remind critics that perception is not always reality. He has championed the values of the right far more than he has disavowed them. Moreover, the lifetime rankings of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — 8 and 9, respectively — highlight the full extent by which a victory for the senior senator from Arizona will benefit the nation.

Specifically, his devotion to the military, his desire to appoint judges who will respect the preeminence of the Constitution, and his actually having an idea for fixing Social Security that does not involve the further impoverishment of the citizenry are massive points in his favor.

Many conservatives now recognize his considerable upside. Additionally, the New York Times’ willful and duplicitous attempt to ruin him only served to heighten his popularity among the firebrands of the right.

The less savory aspects of his worldview are but near beer when compared to the megaproof toxicity of the Obama and Clinton perspectives. While a McCain presidency will not succeed in shrinking the size of the Leviathan, his leftward competitors will expand state power and scope as if they were ampules of Deca-Durabolin. Statist is to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as aggression is to an outside linebacker.

Recall Obama’s $200 billion planned spending spree along with Clinton’s Christmas ad in which she depicted government programs as presents that only a mighty queen such as she could bestow. A vote for one of them is a vote for goodies — goodies that our nation cannot afford.

McCain represents the possible, which is imperative in 2008. Our economic outlook is dire and the situation can deteriorate still further. Nothing makes a utopian writhe like the statement “things can always get worse,” but writhe they must as we appear on the brink of fiscal collapse.

Ominous, indeed, are the signs. The dollar’s decline has brought about “a serious crisis.” The bailout of Bear Stearns has made some wonder if we’re only seeing “the tip of the iceberg towards which the U.S. financial ship is headed.” Since February 2007, the Consumer Price Index has grown by 4 percent, but February’s elevation in core inflation rates was significant as producer prices rose by 6.4 percent over the course of the last year.

The Federal Reserve’s recent interbank lending rate cut of 75 basis points may have sparked a favorable reaction on Wall Street, but the Fed’s last two moves “are the largest reductions in the federal funds rate since it became the chief tool of monetary policy about two decades ago.”

Such drastic action is unsettling. Ultimately, government’s attempts to bolster the credit market and the economy may magnify our difficulties while having the unintended effect of exacerbating inflation.

The unwieldy size of the federal government is not the sole factor behind our predicament, but deleterious has its impact been. Since 1987 the federal budget has ballooned from $1 trillion per annum to just over $3 trillion.

The federocracy’s fleecing of the public makes dicey the chances of a permanent recovery. Moody Investment Service has announced that it may have to downgrade U.S. bonds as a result of the unfunded obligations inherent to our entitlement programs (such as Social Security and Medicare).

A gaggle of new programs and regulations, along with a ratcheting up of tax rates, could result in America becoming as doomed as Eliot Spitzer. Given the current climate of consumer anxiety and market disarray, the last thing we need is four years of the Democratic Party dominating both the executive and legislative branches of government.

Once elected, we all know what a leftist president’s prescription for our ailing economy will be: reflexive state spending, class warfare, identity politics, and bureaucrats attempting to socially engineer the citizenry. This will be akin to swallowing strychnine as a means of curing influenza. Their policies will deliver us from the cliff upon which we teeter by plummeting us into the valley below.

The last thing the country needs are ideologues who define “social justice” as the practice of stealing money from those who earn it. The current amount that the government confiscates goes far beyond Americans “paying their dues.” We give Washington, DC, billions more than we should. Further, there is no evidence that most federal programs “save the poor” or are even an efficient expenditure of resources. Politicians who think otherwise should not be trusted with a remote control, let alone the flight schedule of Air Force One.

As our gross domestic product recedes, the new Democratic chief, of course, will increase taxes in the name of “economic stimulus.” Eventually, when none of us have anything, President Obama or President Clinton will then effuse over how fine a job they’ve done. Our shared poverty will have brought about equality of outcome.

Only John McCain can forestall the country’s descent into a Lyndon Johnson netherworld wherein every expressed complaint equates with a “government solution.” He is no magic wand, but until conservatives find a means of cloning the cells of Ronald Reagan, we must acknowledge that the former aviator offers America the best hopes of averting a progressive — read: regressive — nightmare.

In November, rallying around McCain is the closest conservatives can come to rallying around the flag. He offers us a comparative, and profound, advantage over his competition and preventing calamity is an end in itself.

Bernard Chapin wrote Women: Theory and Practice and Escape from Gangsta Island, along with a series of videos called Chapin's Inferno. You can contact him at [email protected]